Having wandered the majority of streets in the old walled town we decided to head out for the harbour and, if we still had time, part of the town of Galle. Straight ahead we saw Galle’s cricket ground. This seemed to be in a prime position and probably highlights the importance of the game on the island. There was a game in progress at the time and we were aware that the original ground had in fact been devastated by the 2004 tsunami. From the ground we could see the Indian ocean was visible on two sides of the ground and the towering above the ground was the fort’s clock-tower. I gather that England’s Ian Botham was instrumental in getting the ground back into decent condition after the tsunami and we speculated that the match in progress was a pre-curser to the imminent World Cup.
Anyway we continue our walk toward the ocean and suddenly we’re overseeing a group of fishermen attempting to move their heavy fishing boat back in to the water. Probably a dozen had their backs against the structure and they were attempting to slide it down the sand into the water. I reckon in the time we were watching them it probably moved a couple of feet, so to get it into the sea would by my calculations have taken them well over the hour. Close by a couple of fishermen were preparing their catch for market as they de-headed and gutted the fish. Close to hand birds lay in wait for the pick of the left-overs and a few metres away four guys were busy making repairs to their fishing nets. They seemed very casual as they worked industriously to sort out the damage.
We head off back round the cricket ground past a statue of a man on horseback and then seeing a stupa on the other side of the road we risk life and limb to get close to it. This turned out to be a good move as it was going to lead us in the direction of the train station through a small market area. Here we see stalls selling only hair bands. Not just one but probably three or four all selling identical goods. How on earth do they survive?
Old carriages seem to be converted for stall holders to push their goods around town and several of these are selling snacks. I see a short alleyway that is reminiscent of the entrance to a souk so I head off down to investigate. My friend is less convinced but with some gentle persuasion he accompanies me. This area is full of craftsmen – some tailors, leather ware "manufacturers" and two stalls which are working on repairing what looked like irreparable shoes. The latter seems to be one of the most favoured small businesses that we see around Galle.
At the end of the alleyway there are loads of cages full of small birds. Not sure if they being sold as a delicacy, for religious ceremonies (I seem to recall that the release of caged birds is a feature of some Buddhist ceremonies), or as household pets. Guess I’ll never really know for sure!
Having reached the end of the alley we saunter back down to the main road. No-one has been bothered by our presence and we did not feel in the least bit imtimidated, With hindsight I’m not sure that I’d have risked investigating this alley if I’d have been on my own.
Time is now marching on and we realise that we’re not absolutely sure where we are in relation to the train station. We pause to get our bearings and then spot the bus terminal, which we both recall was near the train station. With renewed confidence we stride out and our instinct and recall was correct – there in front of us was the main railway station and with 20 minutes left to buy our tickets and board the train we both reckon that our timing is impeccable.
We just have time for a quick look around the station before heading to the train. We’ve successfully viewed Galle and now we’ve bagged a comfortable seat next to the window for our return journey. What a great day out.